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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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very good
719 Reviews
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.90%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter.

Added by maxpower on 11-18-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 719 | Ratings: 1,765
Photo of ItsTheLimit
4.31/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Perfect beer for a cold night, especially if stouts and other traditionally heavier beers aren't your thing.

Hazy copper color with a thin tight head. White-ish lacing with nice head retention.

Smells of sweet malt, caramel, black licorice, and coriander.

This beer tastes delicious. Warming quality from some alcohol but very balanced. Sweet malt up front with dried fruit, nutmeg, caramel and other spices.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel makes this an easy drinker, but will definitely warm you up. Nice alcohol heat will make this a great evening-sipper near a fireplace. Really liking this beer.

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Photo of ckornmannn
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a can: light mahogany color, clear. Apple and caramel on the nose- a lot of aroma for this style of beer. The right amount of carbonation. Apple, caramel, breadiness, and a bit of astringency taste wise. This really tastes like an alt beer with some evergreen tips added in. I really like it; would buy it again.

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Photo of Dodo2step
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

P- Market Cross Pub in Carlisle.

A- love the bottle labeling. Pours a nice creamy nutmeg brown color with a decent head but it runs away from the top quickly.

S- we got some sweet fruity malts. Some nice clove or nutmeg spices as well. Smells of thick caramel come to the front and the back end has mild hops. Its like a caramel apple with nutmeg and clove thrown in on top.

T- a bready caramel flavor that pounds you in the mouth. Spices are more pronounced in the taste than in the smell. Very sugary and fruity. Cinnamon and brown sugar come to the palate after i have had a few more sips.

M- chewy and mouth popping. Full of flavor as far as sugar and malts go. The hops arent there but thats ok i still like the flavor.

D- other than spices it is pretty easy to put back. the spices come out and warm the throat but the after taste is all apice and it is good and bad to some extent. A tad too much.

I love this beer and will look to buy more of it.

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Photo of pnkermiz
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at Barcade. One of my favorites of the increasing number of winter warmer releases. Reddish amber in color with a spicy malt aroma and a hugely complex flavor of "winter". Caramel and vanilla are very up front with a mixture of dark, sweet fruits (dates, figs, plums) and dark chocolate and spices as well. Warms my stomach every winter and makes me feel like that fireplace video I'm watching has come to life.

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Photo of StevieW
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I carried this bottle back from my california vacation, I was worried about it's freshness. It seems to have held up. Color I would call more brown than amber, thin head faded fast. Noticable hop smell initially, then as it warms, more spices are very noticable. Faint nutmeg, cinnamon, make a distinct sweet smell. Taste is much the same, hops to start, then lots of unique spices, maybe vanilla, hazelnut, very sublte, though not overly spicy. Very balanced taste and feel. A little thinner on the feel than expected but I found it very drinkable and tasty. I was surprised to see it listed where it is, and not with other seasonals like the Harpoon Winter Warmer, or the SA Celebration Ale, which is the best of the seasonals, IMO.

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Photo of ChrisBowers
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of my all time favorite winter seasonals. Quite unlike anything else out there. Pours a murky reddish amber with a nice head that dissipates to about a finger with some nice lace. Taste is top notch. Fruity, spicy, with some fruity syrupy goodness that adds just the right amount of sweetness. The balance of fruits and spices combined with a dry maltiness makes this beer a phenominal holiday treat. Don't like Anderson Valley's high price tag scare you away, its definitely worth grabbing some of this.

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Photo of EPseja
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours rusty copper from the bottle with a very slight haze and a nice inch of head which develops over the moments after the bottle is emptied.

The initial smell is that of fresh, cool West Coast hops and sweet, medium bodied crystal malt. Mingling with that is a decent dose of Holiday spice (orange peel? allspice?).

The taste hits with an immediate sugar-candy and caramel sweetness (no doubt from the crystal malt) and a crisp, floral hoppiness. In the mouth, the alcohol becomes more prevalent, but not in a destracting way -- the hops are powerful enough to counter that. Surprisingly, the spices are subdued enough that they only emerge just prior to, and during the finish. The aftertaste is that of a mild IPA coupled with the seasonal spices.

Aside from a few large bubbles visible in the "corners" of the head, this beer is very finely carbonated, giving a smooth, creamy mouthfeel without filling your stomach with CO2.

This beer is easy to drink, and is warming in precisely the way you'd like a nice winter seasonal to be. This is a "no-bloat" beer that you can drink a few of even with or after a nice sized Holiday meal. This beer is recommended for any Wintertime Celebration, and is sure to become a staple in all mine for years to come.

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Photo of dawg
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this last one into a stout glass. Had my first in a bottle in a local bar this year. Both were very good.

Pours well. Rich creamy balsa head which sticks around for awhile releasing aroma of fruits and spices. Smells like an exceptional seasonal with, perhaps anise, dark friuts, nuts, cinnamon. Aroma changes as head reduces.

Tastes much like molasses, cherries, spices (perhaps a minor pine taste) and finishes off with an almost candy-like smoothness. Mouthfeel is also creamy with the carbonation expanding the ale as it flows by the toung. Swishing around amplifies this affect. Very pleasant. Some brief traces of alcohol that diminish as the ale expands releasing the spices.

Very easy to enjoy.

As a side note, I've convinced alot of macro beer drinkers to taste this one. Each and every one (many who always refuse to drink "dark beer") enjoy the drinkability.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the can into a nonic pint glass.

A real nice off caramel very light white head, foamy about a good solid three fingers on the pour. Body is a gorgeous dark ruby and clear garnet with no rising carbonation. Looks real nice love this color.

Nose is a noticeable malt that goes in a very mild grass smelling sense. Slight spices, but mostly just a nice malt sensation.

Taste is a wonderful mix of chocolate and malt and mild spices. I it is almost as if drinking milk chocolate with this big noticeable whipped up chocolate sense. Chocolate angle brings out some mild nut, and I got that warm boozy sense in my stomach. Light spice of nutmeg in the middle. Mouthfeel is perfectly fine nothing to rave about or fault.

Overall I am real impressed with this one. It almost feels like drinking powderer cocoa mix with a slight hint of booze. Not even highly sweet either. Just great!

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Photo of Diogenes
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first review of any beer. I just tried this up against Anchor's Christmas Ale and found it to be more rounded and mature in both appearance and taste although less robust in general character (Anchor quite nice and I will review that soon). It's a fairly deep amber ale with a relatively small head (considering the thin pilsener style glass I'm using). The taste is balanced, pleasantly sweetly spicy with some room to further mature (but not nearly to the same extent as the Anchor), but drinkable now and in vast quantities if that is your aim. Its aroma matches its clean appearance with the sweet spice hint although I'm at a loss to precisely identify the constituents added to this fine beer. I'm not sure about the "mouthfeel" category in general as most quality beers seem silky to me and the Anderson Valley Winter Solstice 2006 is no different. My inclination is to only highlight mouthfeel when I notice something unusual one way or the other, and this beer has the "right" feel. Overall a particularly enjoyable beer that doesn't beat you over the head with hops like another seasonal ale I tried yesterday. The Winter Solstice is very, sweetly, good - I intend to buy a case! Hope this helps.

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Photo of ZorroZ
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Serving type: can poured into glass
Appearance: Beautiful, medium chestnut colour. Upon pouring, forms an incredibly rich, foamy head, albeit one that dissipates quickly.
Smell: Not much of a smell, surprisingly, considering what came next
Taste: Oh, WOW. Nicely malty, with little hops bite, but a lovely overall taste that almost disguises the fairly high ABV.. Just a little bit of the taste remains on the back of the tongue after a sip.
Overall: I'm *really* enjoying this six pack!

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Photo of bort11
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was in my stocking for Christmas. Thank you Santa!

22 oz bottle, poured into an imperial pint glass. Thick egg-cream colored head, very sticky. Leaves a solid ring on the glass. Color is a dark amber/orange. Quite a bit of bubble activity.

Smell has a toasted malt base, with some orange peel and dark spices in the middle. The orange peel becomes more pronounced in the taste, balanced with some mulling spices and a dark bread malt character.

Mouthfeel is is medium bodied with a crisp carbonation. It is certainly a winter warmer, but is also pretty refreshing too.

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Photo of carolinahophead
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had to review this beer during Christmas.
A: The beer beer poured a light sunset brown like a clear to partly cloudy winter night. Even a nice snowy head out of a can.
S: A malt lovers dream here with winter spice, let this brew warm up and the aromas come alive.
T: How about vanilla and a malt smoothie ....
A winter warmer to enjoy here with friends.
Maybe a little cinnamon and allspice . Close your eyes and think of fruitcake.
M: A medium mouthfeel with good carbonation and nice finish .
O: A big fan here of AVBC .... Beer geeks a must here for sure . Fun to drink and nice conversation brew as well..

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Photo of chefhatt
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured this beer into a pint glass, it has a copper color body with a strong white 2" white head that is stays around for a while. The smell is like cream soda, vanilla, brown sugar. The taste has a sweet malt start, then a nice sweet cream flavor, also some vanilla in there also. The mouth feel is creamy, smooth and a nice drinker.

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Photo of yemenmocha
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What a drinkable winter warmer! Pours a luxurious shade of amber with artfully contrasting head of white. Nose is seductive with caramel and hints of vanilla, with a toasty/biscuity quality as well. On the palate the caramel comes through nicely with a sweet apple to pear fruity quality, and toasty/biscuity character is noted on the palate as well. Nice creamy mouthfeel and toasty finish. A spectacular beer!

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Photo of Luigi
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a rich Amber color with a creamy three finger head. Head retention settles down to a thick blanket a top off the ale, leaving rings with every sip.

The aroma is sweet with caramel, nut meg, cinnamon, toasted bread, and a little booze.

At first taste, a get a sweet mix of caramel, holiday spices, complemented with a little alcohol sweetness, giving it an almost candy like finish. The finish is mildly dry and has a hint of hop spice that will linger.

Full bodied and chewy on the palate. Easy to drink, just take your time.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Has done it again! There has yet to brew from this company that did not exceed my expectations. Cheers to staying warm during the winter months.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From old beer notes. Had on tap this past winter at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle, IL.

A: Very dark and rich; perhaps a mahogany color with an infusion of a little extra read. The head looks good, and is a slightly-darkened cream color.

S: Excellent nose, with plenty of spices and some citrus; all of this overlays a nice base of buttered toffee and pure creaminess.

T: Much like the smell, though not terribly spicy. Quite sweet and overpowering in malt complexity.

M: Medium-to-full-bodied and very creamy. Not too much noticeable alcohol.

D: Exceedingly drinkable. I'd love to have a keg of this one for by the fire.

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Photo of chanokokoro
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. can in stemmed English ale glass

Pours a maple syrup-colored amber capped with an off-white billowing head. Excellent retention with plenty of lacing. Big caramel aroma rounded out by plums and notes of brandy. Toffee, black cherries, plum and various stone fruit notes. Biscuity notes midpalate Finishes with caramel covered black cherries. Medium body, smooth, silky mouthfeel; moderate carbonation. Wonderful winter warmer, one of the best available.

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Photo of JosiahS
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

glass: Tulip

Cloudy dark copper color with a 1-2 finger off-white head. It's a little too hazy to see much carbonation. The aroma carries a strong malt backbone, rich with toffee, dates, cocoa nibs, cherry-apple and spices.

Smooth velvety mouthfeel that just can't be beat. The flavors merry so well, spot on with the aroma. Strong, rich malt flavors throughout. Finishes clean, easy and smooth with minimal bitterness.

I picked this beer up in a mix pack but i can see myself going back for a sixer. One of the better winter offerings i've had so far.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass warmed to about 50 degrees. 2005 edition.

A: Deep auburn with ivory head, less than one finger.

S: Caramel, butterscotch maybe? Candy sweetness but there's a deeper rich roasted aroma as well.

T: Almost exceptional...not sugary sweet - complex. The caramel is there with what can best be described as toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts?) Hints of spice too. Others have done a better job describing, all I know is that I enjoy the taste immensely

M: Warm & seductive. Dances on the tongue. Full & lingering flavor.

D: I agree this isn't a session beer...I think of it more as a "savor" beer, like a dessert. A very good winter warmer and one I'm happy to have found.

Oh, man I love this beer...keeping one for later

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Photo of ficknish
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark amber. Light bubbles. Good head.

S - Caramel. Toasty malts. Spices. Bread. Raisins. Vanilla.

T - Marshmallow. Vanilla. Toffee. Strong bitter hops. Spices.

M - Tingly. Bitter. Medium body.

O - Loving this beer. Sweet body with homey flavors of vanilla, bread, and spices. Sweetness was well balanced with hop bitterness. Will drink again.

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Photo of ffejherb
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 release. 12oz. bottle into pint glass on 12/26/07.

A - Poured a clear ruby red body with mahogany tones and one-finger rocky beige head. Lots of bubbles of active carbonation. Pretty good head retention with spotty lacing.

S - Rich malty nose with sweet caramel, chocolate and bready/toasted malts. Faint herbal hops in the background. Traces of fruit, anise, cinnamon and winter spices. Reminds me of gingerbread cookie dough.

T - Lots of subtle flavors combining here, making for a very tasty winter ale. Starts off a bit spicy with a mix of winter spices, followed by a delicate caramel and chocolate sweetness. Finishes up with a robust, bready malt flavor and some more chocolate and gingerbread.

M - Medium body with an exceptionally smooth, creamy texture. Soft carbonation with a minimal prickle factor. Finish is sweet and smooth on the palate.

D - This is an extremely tasty brew that's easy to drink. Much more subtle than other winter ales I've had. Very nice blend of malts and spices. It will warm you up on a chilly winter evening.

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Photo of QXSTER1
4.36/5  rDev +13%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reddish brown brew with loads of fruity spiciness. Balanced towards sweet, nutty maltiness but with a hops(Cascade?) finish. I get a hint of vanilla as well. A smooth, drinkable ale to toast the cold weather.

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Photo of tattooedtolley
4.37/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap

Appearance: Reddish amber in color, thin tan head.

Smell: Very sweet smelling, fruit-like, and malty. a bit of hops

Taste: Sweet with plenty of malty goodness, and a bit of hops to balance. For some reason I tasted bubblegum on a few sips. I heard others saying the same thing, but after a few more sips it was easier to pick that apart.

Mouthfeel: Good body to it also fairly crisp and refreshing.

Drinkability: I was satisfied after one, not a session beer for me but I could easily handle another.

I must be honest, I am no big fan of winter ales. I said this to my friend at this particular pub and he insisted that I have one of these on the house. After having this winter ale, I don't think there will be another out there quite like it or one that I like so well.

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Photo of buffettfan
4.37/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of the bomber, into a pint glass.

A- Pours a nice, copper colored, reddish brown. With a nice layer of fluffy head, and some tenacious lacing!
S- Sweet and a little spice. Carmel candy smells, with some vanilla, and winter spices come through. This smells GREAT!
T- Some of the same tastes come through that you can smell. A sort of candy sweet caramel maltiness, with those wintery spicy! There is some vanilla and nutmeg/cinnamon tastes coming through.

M- Warm and inviting! I great winter beer! Not heavy at all, very smooth, and extremely drinkable!!

D- VERY drinkable! I will be buying this one again! Might even be my Christmas evening beer!

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,765 ratings.
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